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  • Writer's pictureNika Antuanette

Be a Bit Dangerous…Ferocious like A Wolf!

Wolf Performance at Aquarius - Secret Summer Photo By Abigail Classey

The more I welcome elements of “danger” into my life, the more I realize the existence of walls that I have built up. In many of life’s situations, it is smart to have your guard up and be prepared to take action to defend yourself and others. However, this is not always necessary.

In the urban wilderness of the city, it is advantageous to not be too open, welcoming strangers into the sphere of personal space. I find it is best to mind my own business and keep my head on a swivel for safety. My dad helped instill this notion into my behavior long ago. Not everyone can be trusted. This is wise advice.

I notice that people zone out, disappear, or shut down to avoid taking in the mélange of outer stimulation that surrounds us. Deflecting outside information is a protection mechanism. There is a lot of noise pollution out there and things we don’t want to take in.

Who can blame them? It is seemingly easier to avoid it all.

However, as a performer, it is essential to be open and exposed. We need to reveal our vulnerabilities and allow our authentic expression to come through. This is a performer’s greatest strength, because it makes them relatable.

Aquarius Wolfpack (L-->R Erin Dillon, Nika Antuanette, Sarah Elaz, Morgan Bryant), Photo by Tyler Hollinger

To go there, we need to be receptive. If we cannot receive, we cannot respond. Take the calculated risk of letting go, & not controlling everything. We cannot control everything anyway. I think a lot of it has to do with trusting, too. Spontaneity and risk-taking are desirable. It’s liberating to let things happen.

How can this occur if we have been conditioned to protect ourselves?

How can we tear our guard down and truly let other people affect us?

I’m still working on this unraveling, but a lot of it begins with conscious awareness. Just noticing when my defenses are up and allowing myself to soften instead of harden my whole being is step 1. I allow myself to be really curious and pay attention to ordinary things like it’s the first time I’m seeing them. On stage and on camera are safe spaces to let go and drop into the moment. I feel more comfortable revealing myself there than to people on the subway, for instance.

We can, however, create a stable foundation by playing up to our strengths and working on our weaknesses. This will keep us moving in the direction of growth. Sometimes, we may fall and “fail,” but that is applaudable, too. Going for it and showing up are half the battle. I aim to be as real as possible and strip away the fluff. Fear of failure just has to go. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.

It is also essential to live on a higher level by truly living in the present moment. It sounds cliché, but being present is always the answer. By connecting to the breath and dropping into the body, we can tap into the NOW.

Here’s an exercise that can help: square breathing. Picture a square (Don’t be one! :) )

Using visualization, you inhale up the length of one side of the square, hold your breath across the next edge of the square, exhale down the next side of the square, and hold your breath across the last edge of the square. Repeat a few times until you feel centered.

Another method is to put your concentration on something outside of yourself. Ideally, in acting, this would be your scene partner. This takes the focus off of the self, which removes self-consciousness. The more we invest in our partner, the better. Then we can really sense how they are feeling and respond accordingly. We must really listen and really look.

This is a perspective shift, and it takes some effort at first. I am still working on diving deep into the unknown of this practice.

Stretching myself through this method is good, because it reveals truth and it is a challenge. Be a little dangerous and try something new. Just let yourself be.

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